IMMEDIATE RELEASE FOR FEDERAL DEFENDANTS WHEN FEDS CAN’T SHOW FLIGHT RISK OR SERIOUS DANGER IN TAMPA BAY

Detention Hearings in Federal Court in Tampa can result in an immediate release for a client without the necessity of a motion for Detention Hearing, when the Government fails to establish that a detention of a federal defendant is necessary under the Federal Statute § 3142(f)(2). Call a Tampa Bay Federal Defense Attorney if you believe you’re under threat from a Federal Investigation, Federal Grand Jury or Federal search warrant.


Here is some of the relevant Federal Law on Detention Hearings in Federal Court:

Under the Federal Bail Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(1), the magistrate must hold a detention hearing on the motion of the prosecutor if the defendant is charged with:
·        a crime of violence.
·        any offense for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment or death.
·        a drug offense for which the maximum term of imprisonment is ten years or more.
·        any other felony committed by a person previously convicted of two or more of the above offenses.
A hearing is also required on a motion of the prosecutor or on the judge’s own motion in cases that involve an allegation of:
·        a serious risk of flight.
·        obstruction of justice.
·        intimidation of a prospective witness or juror.

Determination of Release or Detention

                        [1] Relevant Factors
In order to determine whether any condition(s) will reasonably ensure the appearance of the defendant and the safety of others, the magistrate must consider:
·        the nature of the offense charged.
·        the weight of the evidence against the defendant.
·        the defendant’s physical and mental condition.
·        the defendant’s ties to family and the community.
·        whether, at the time of the current arrest, the defendant was already on probation or parole or on pretrial release from another offense.

As you can see a Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney may be able to help make the best arguments for a Defendant’s immediate release at a Federal Detention Hearing in Tampa Federal Court of a Motion for a Bond Reduction or ROR in State Court in Pinellas or Hillsborough County. 


Many Thanks to Attorney Fritz Scheller in Orlando for the following information about Middle District of Florida Detention Hearings which showed some excellent lawyering skills:

St. Paul in Prison - Rembrandt
Rembrandt, Paul in Prison, 1627

Recently, I had a detention hearing before Magistrate Judge Karla Spaulding in Orlando. The client had been detained before another magistrate under 18 USC § 3142(f) at her first appearance upon the government’s motion. The issue before the court was whether the government could even seek detention under § 3142 since the defendant’s crime did not qualify under § 3142(f)(1). Rather than filing a motion for a detention hearing, I moved for the defendant’s immediate release since the government had failed to establish that a request for detention was warranted under § 3142(f)(2). A case that supports this contention is United States v. Ploof, 851 F.2d 7 (1st Cir. 1988).

At the hearing, the Federal Magistrate agreed, concluding  that since the case did not meet the criteria under § 3142(f)(1), the government had to offer evidence that the case qualified for a detention under § 3142(f)(2). That is, the government had to offer evidence that the defendant either posed a serious risk of flight or a serious risk of danger. Serious risk of danger under that section essentially requires a showing that the defendant poses a risk of obstruction or threat to witnesses. Despite this statutory requirement, the government only offered evidence of the nature of the defendant’s crimes and weight of the evidence against her. 



TAMPA FEDERAL COURT BOND & DETENTION STRATEGY

The purpose of a bond is to place money or property at risk so that the Defendant may remain free pending the resolution of his case. Upon release the Defendant must abide by any restrictions placed upon him by the magistrate, judge or probation office as the case proceeds thru the federal system or the case proceeds in the Pinellas Criminal Court Complex or in Tampa.

On Motion for a Reduction of Bond filed timely by a Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney the court may insure the appearance of a Defendant with a signature bond based on a promise to pay if there is a nonappearance or a cash bond payed in advance of any appearance or with a property bond, also known as a secure bond.

In a typical case in the Federal District Court in Tampa a Federal Magistrate will look at the following factors to determine if bond should be reduced:

  1. Ties to the community. How long has the Defendant lived in the community? Does the Defendant have employment, own property and have family ties to the area?
  2. Risk of flight. Is there a likelihood that the Defendant will appear for his trial? Note that in Federal cases there is an automatic presumption of flight risk when the Defendant is charged with a significant amount of drugs. For example, if one is charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine or Trafficking in Cocaine, a minimum mandatory jail sentence is triggered as is the rebuttable presumption that the Defendant will attempt to flee.
  3. Risk of danger to the community or to the victim of the crime, if any.

Surprisingly, the strength or weakness of the Government’s case is ordinarily not a factor in determination of bond. Yet by timely demanding a Preliminary Hearing immediately before the detention hearing the Government will be forced to place unprepared testimony of the case agent subject to cross-examination before the Federal Magistrate to establish whether there is in fact Probable Cause to even be holding the Defendant.
This will rarely if ever free the Defendant,who after all, has been indicted by a Grand Jury that presumably has heard relevant evidence, but it may tend to show subtle problems with the charge.
For example, I once represented a too-trusting young middle class Canadian lady whose life was turned upside down when she was charged with Trafficking Drugs while she was in Tampa, Florida on vaction.
Under cross-examination during the Preliminary Hearing in the Middle District of Florida in Tampa that a Clearwater Criminal Federal Defense Lawyer demanded, the unprepared Case Agent from DEA testified that my client was actually not in the room when her boyfriend sold the drugs to a wired Confidential Informant. My client had gone into the bathroom. The Magistrate was clearly troubled and said so on the record, but could not reduce the bond; however, eventually the Government was forced to reduce the charge.